Yesterday I mused aloud whether or not Joe Flacco could signal that patience is key when waiting on Christian Ponder's development. It would appear having skimmed through the comments that most disagree, and some brought up my legitimate points in regards to key differences between the two QBs. Of course, it's all a bit of a moot conversation: we all are well aware that, short of some sort of freak training camp competition success (like Russell Wilson overtaking Matt Flynn in Seattle), Ponder is our starter come the beginning of next season, and in all likelihood will remain that way throughout. And yes, if Ponder doesn't show considerable growth in certain key areas this year, then it will be time to move along.
I was reading something today however that caused me to consider another possibility in terms of parallels, and this one actually isn't really in the Vikings favor. Honestly, I had forgotten that John Harbaugh (aka Harbaugh the Elder, and in all likelihood during Thanksgiving this year, "Harbaugh the Better"), before becoming HC for the Ravens, was the special teams coach for the Eagles.
While the article was more focused on the amount of college teams that passed Harbaugh up for their own HC vacancies, the article on ProFootballTalk that talks about his previous career ends on an interesting note: the idea that Harbaugh's success- which is throughout his HC career considerable- could cause other teams to begin considering ST coaches for their own HC vacancies.
Typically teams go for offensive or defensive coordinators, previously fired head coaches, or head coaches from the college level. But PFT points out that ST coaches must work with almost the entire team (as most players have some sort of, at least in theory, role on special teams- even Adrian Peterson was lobbying for returns, and I bet he got a little practice at it just to appease him), and also must show at times more adaptability than their offensive/ defensive counterparts.
OK, so what's the parallel? Well, if you haven't come to the conclusion yourself already, if Harbaugh's success does begin to spur a move towards ST coaches being given serious consideration for HC vacancies, then our own Mike Priefer is going to quickly end up at the top of a few lists. Chris wrote several articles lauding him for his considerable accomplishments- if you didn't read them or don't remember them, in a nutshell he's been a historically good ST coach. Having turned around a pretty abysmal unit into one of the league's best in two years is nothing to sneeze at. Even when his best players go down- such as Percy Harvin- Priefer's unit remains solid and dangerous. And his ability to turn Blair Walsh from a kid that had a well-deserved rap for inaccuracy into a record-setting, rookie Pro Bowl kicker is still amazing- and mind you, he did that in apparently about the span of a month, considering how quickly he knew releasing reliable veteran Ryan Longwell was the right move.
That is again of course bad news for the Vikings, but I also don't want to wish Priefer ill. Of course if he does make the big-time jump in a season or two to HC, I'll root for his team (except against us, and except of course if it's the Packers*, Bears, Lions, Saints*, or Buccaneers). (*If it happens it's not going to be with the Packers or Saints.) (Parenthesis!) And I'll wish him well and expect great success from his part.
And it is the way of the NFL- truly successful coordinators and assistant coaches don't stick around forever, eventually they get picked up for promotions. And Harbaugh's success at having made the jump from ST coach to HC, coupled with Priefer's considerable success in his own ST coaching capacity, means I would not be surprised if come 2014 or 2015 he's gone on to bigger and better things.
Even if that will suck for us.